The Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) – a collaborative program between the Metropolitan Community College (MCC), the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District, and the University of Central Missouri (UCM) – received acknowledgement as one of the top workforce development programs in the country by the Community College Futures Assembly (CCFA). The MIC collaboration was one of ten national finalists for the “Bellwether Award” that recognizes outstanding and innovative programs in community college education.
“We are honored that our efforts are being recognized on the national level and that MCC was nominated for such a prestigious award. The MIC was designed to engage business partners and community organizations to reshape the way students experience education,” said Mark James, chancellor of MCC. “When a high school student is able to not only work towards an associate degree but also gain industry experience doing an internship – all before graduating from high school – that’s an incredibly invaluable opportunity.”
The Bellwether Awards are one of the highest honors a community college can receive, according to Dale F. Campbell, professor and director of the CCFA and the University Of Florida Institute Of Higher Education. The field of Bellwether nominations was very competitive this year, with more than 1,000 programs nominated. Alamo Colleges’ workforce development program from San Antonio, Texas received the award.
MCC was acknowledged for its efforts in the area of workforce development. A team from MCC-Longview and MIC presented to Community College Futures Assembly in Orlando, Florida.
“The community – including the business partners, educational institutions, students and families – can be proud of this collaborative effort.” said MCC-Longview President Kirk Nooks. “We are thrilled that national experts and education leaders view the program as a national leader and value the visionary approach and results we are experiencing with the Missouri Innovation Campus.”
The MIC has been recognized as reshaping the way students experience education by engaging business partners and community organizations to help students earn high school diplomas and associate degrees simultaneously. Through the MIC, beginning their junior year in high school, students finish high school credits and take classes from MCC to earn college credit. Upon graduation from high school, these students will have their high school diplomas and associate degrees. After high school graduation, students who finish their entire MCC curriculum are eligible to complete a bachelor degree from UCM in only two years.
To date, 52 students are in the demanding program in systems engineering, engineering technology, or software development. Each student will intern with a business partner such as Black and Veatch, Burns and McDonnell, Cerner, DST, KCP&L and St. Luke’s Health System. Many of the businesses will also permanently hire MIC graduates.
During a visit to review the work of the MIC, President Obama recognized this pioneering program, stating “Now, that is exactly the kind of innovation we need when it comes to college costs. And I want the entire country to notice it, and I want other colleges to take a look at what’s being done here.”